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The River

The River
Signed Mixed Media

Roy Lichtenstein

Mixed Media, 1985
Signed Mixed Media Edition of 60
H 95cm x W 134cm

Critical Review

The River shows a highly traditional landscape portrait with sailboats drifting down a narrow river. Abstracted figures observe the voyage from the shore. A row of houses with smoking chimneys are set in the background of the work. The whole scene is composed of intersecting pastel-toned and primary coloured brushstrokes. The explosive hand-painted sweeps interact energetically with the mechanical aspects of the artist’s own style. Consequently, the layout of the print becomes similarly abstracted as Lichtenstein’s concurrent Brushstroke Faces and Seven Apple Woodcuts.

Lichtenstein cleverly translates his stylised brushstroke variations into the conventional language of the landscape genre. As such, his simulated sweeps appear more instinctive and integrated. While Lichtenstein’s imitated painterly gestures symbolise shifting light and nature in motion, the detached cartoon elements produce spatial ambiguities. These strokes seem to have been cut out and pasted on, steering attention toward the object quality of the work.

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